I am someone so chock full of privilege, it’s coming out of my ears. I do not intend for this to be a mocking or shocking revelation; for 25 years I’ve been a lower middle-class, cis-gendered, heterosexual male who was able to obtain two advanced degrees and currently works in a full-time, salaried position that I find extremely fulfilling on both creative and emotional plains. I’ve reaped all the benefits of these circumstances and have flourished because the world is built in such a way that I am able to consistently do so without care, concern, or consternation.
I am in the ideal place to come out. I have a mostly solid familial situation, a loving and ever-supportive female partner, ultra supportive friends who won’t bat an eye at reading this (hell, they’ve probably known this about me far longer than I have), co-workers who will more than likely ignore this or just say “hey, good for you,” and the ultimate privilege of knowing that to the majority of the world I will continue to just be some other 25 year old, taller than most, hip-bearded white guy.
Here it is: I’m queer.
I’m writing this because it helps me to feel validated and it gives me the opportunity to directly address the fact that my journey away from heterosexuality and into queerness has been far steadier than the ones of my peers who have shared their stories with me; simply put, I can say “I’m not straight” or “I’m queer” and nothing will change for me since I am in a seemingly heteronormative relationship and I don’t exhibit stereotyped notions of queerness. My privilege will, more than likely, always precede me.
So what am I? There’s a wide world of queerness ant sd there’s a huge plethora of super validating terminology, identities, and preferences out there and as of now I’m not sure I can claim just one.
OKCupid gives you a pretty wide variety of options to define your orientation and the only one I felt comfortable attaching to myself was “questioning.” I’ve only had sex with women. I’ve only ever kissed women. But I can’t fight the fact that I’m often attracted to other humans. I say “attracted to” specifically because, to me, there’s a difference between admitting someone is “hot” and recognizing the fact that something about this other human lights a fire inside you.
My earliest experience of this difference was probably when I was around 11 years old and I found myself unable to look away from Davey Havok, lead singer of AFI, in the “Girls Not Grey” video. I still blush when I watch that video but I’ve only recently realized what my red cheeks mean.
Sexuality to me is split very evenly down the lines of romantic orientation and sexual orientation and I am completely comfortable saying that I am a pan-romantic person. There’s not a person in the world I’ve met who I couldn’t see myself falling in love and spending ridiculous amount of time with. People are endlessly interesting to me and there is nothing more thrilling to me than knowing which thrift store trinket will bring someone a smile or knowing which songs make them cry every time (“Nineteen” by Tegan & Sara and “Bobby Jean” by Bruce Springsteen, in case you ever wanna see tears in my beard). Romance is not necessarily more enticing to me than sex, but I know with a deep degree of certainty that I could love any person romantically.
There’s a world of experience out there that I have all but ignored and who knows, maybe someday I will take a dive and try something new with a consenting human who understands the depth of my identity, but for now I’m just happy to let myself and all of you know that I am not who I’ve always thought I was.
I’m Bryan. Though my 25 years of life thus far have been somewhat in competition with this, I’m finally comfortable enough with myself to make this statement.
*note: this article was originally published under the title “Not Straight: Part 1” and has since been changed to “I’m Queer: Part 1”. I made this change due to a shift in my understanding of my identity. Thanks for understanding. More to come in the future.